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How should I sleep (and rest) when I diet? (12/28/10)

December 28, 2010

If Diets Don’t Work, What Change Can You Make?


People know that diets don’t work without considerable lifestyle change, but Americans can’t stop trying them.  Perhaps the reason is that two thirds of American adults are obese or overweight, or that one third of the country is slated to become diabetic.  Yet to work at all, diets ultimately have to do far more than change what you eat. Since rest is how your body regenerates itself, using food as fuel and materials, the way of rest can help anyone trying to lose weight.  Here are few options you can consider:


1. Sleep more. Many population studies show that adults who consistently sleep less than six hours a night gain weight; that adolescents who sleep less than 9 hours a night gain weight; that many stressed out adults will gain weight with less than 7 hours sleep (which includes a lot of people.)

Recently, University of Chicago researchers under Pramen Planev showed those placed on identical diets under very controlled conditions lost equal weight over 2 weeks whether they slept 5 hours or 8 hours.  But – the longer sleepers lost far more fat and far less muscle, while the short sleepers woke up very hungry.  Other, less controlled studies also show longer sleep make it easier to lose weight.

Rest rebuilds your body quickly and powerfully.  A significant part of body rewiring takes place during sleep.  Poor sleep does more than foul up your memory and immunity, it helps wreck normal relationships of insulin, ghrelin, leptin, and much of your hormonal machinery.

So try adding a half hour to an hour of real sleep time to your schedule is you start a diet. See if weight loss is easier.  The potentially improved mood, mental sharpness, and overall health may make you make that change permanent.


2. Stand or better walk every time after you eat. Sitting is an independent risk factor for mortality, and standing after a meal can help prevent gastro-esophageal reflux, which many folks experience over the holidays.

Also walking, strolling, moving around, or doing housework after meals should make it easier to lose weight.  When you move you change your ability to digest food quickly.  Glucose is not absorbed as fast; insulin levels level.  Other positive changes to insulin sensitivity may occur. Regularly walking after each meal generally brings people’s weight down, often 12-15 pounds over time.


3.When you eat may be as important as what. Studies done for the US Army in the 1970s gave men identical single meals each day.  Those who ate in the morning lost weight; those who ate in the evening gained weight.

We have a lot more baseline insulin flowing around in the morning, when we’re so starved of glucose we’re digesting muscle proteins to make it.  At night high calorie meals lead to higher fat and glucose levels than at other times – shift workers often gain weight quickly and often become hypertensive more easily. Quick hits of glucose laden foods also appear to build abdominal fat, an endocrine gland that produces many substances which later make weight loss particularly difficult.

So shift calories towards the earlier part of the day.


4. Eat breakfast. Lots of studies now demonstrate that breakfast eaters have a lot easier time losing weight.  With overweight children, if parents eat breakfast their children appear to have an easier time losing weight.

Don’t forget what the Romans taught – time rules life.  Body clocks time your life, so make sure they work for and not against you.


5. Use active rest. Active rest techniques allow you to quickly calm yourself, which helps control emotional eating.  Active rest techniques can also rev you up when exhausted – otherwise a prime time for people to eat too much.  In a population where many feel perpetually tired, others add stimulant drinks to their lives, with the empty calories, anxiety provoking and sleep reducing effects those drinks bring.


So use your body the way it’s built. Use the way of rest.  Rest, food, activity are all necessary parts of life.  Use them together as a system, and all your body systems will work better – together.

Rest, sleep, Sarasota Sleep Doctor, well-being, regeneration, longevity, body clocks, insomnia, sleep disorders, the rest doctor, matthew edlund, the power of rest, the body clock, psychology today, huffington post, redbook, longboat key news

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